I attempted to broach this topic in the Impressions of Havana thread with reference to my husband's critical health crisis a year and a half ago. I gave mention of how as you state here that Cuba does not come to mind as a place to seek sophisticated health care. It seemed to fall on deaf ears save a comment from Lugg.
I think Cuba has made quite a practice of exporting doctors, to Venezuela in exchange for oil, for example.
However, on the sport for ordinary Cubans, there are problems with obtaining medicines. My sister who is allergic to bee or wasp stings was stung on the foot while in Cuba. She said the doctor was extremely good and competent but could give her only one antihistamine pill.
Interesting that Kerouac's link gives prices for cosmetic stuff like breast augmentation and tummy tucks. Not exactly dire necessities. I imagine too that the clinics providing those services have no trouble obtaining medicine.
Breast reconstruction can be free of charge here for women who have had cancer or experienced trauma (such as a car crash). Otherwise it is totally paying (augmentation), and as you can see, seems to be more expensive here than in the US. Breast reductions can be covered in some medical cases (backache etc).
I think so-called "tummy tucks" can be covered for people who were morbidly obese and lost a massive amount of weight, leaving them with skin so saggy as to cause health problems.
As far as the lack of medicines, I've heard that but have no direct knowledge. I did take some over-the-counter things with me, but I usually do that wherever I go, just to keep from having to seek it out when I need it. We did observe that almost every pharmacy had a line of people waiting.
Since 2010 Cuba has required people entering their country to have medical insurance, which is probably a side effect of medical tourism.
When we travel I always make up our own first aid kit but for our holiday to Cuba I did put much more thought into it. Not only for our own needs but what would be safe and helpful to leave behind. I think I have mentioned that when we departed we left pool floats with our housekeeper which she seemed to really like but it was later in the day when my husband tracked her down and gave her a bag that contained boxes of bandages, gauzes, tubes of aloe vera gel, suntan lotion, packages of antihistamines, bottles of Tylenol, Advil and Tums that she seemed most appreciative.
I have had allergic reactions to bug bites so my Doctor has instructed me to always carry two Epi-Pens with me and was reminded to ensure I did not forget to bring them as the resort doctor could possibly not have access. When talking with a woman about our bug bites, she took her daughter to the resort Doctor, he gave her a few antihistamines and charged her 100 CUC.
When we were clearing customs upon our arrival at Cayo Coco Airport, I was taken aside and a Doctor (had a white lab coat on and a name tag) was called out to go through my prescribed medications.
I do not recall of any conversations regarding medical tourism but heard that some Doctors will drive taxi cabs during off hours for extra income.
In the case of my husband's health care needs, the woman who commented to me that he would have received better care were he in Cuba it was a matter of doctors who specialize in certain diseases. The doctors here in the US were scratching their heads because of their unfamiliarity with what was wrong with him and what course of treatment was indicated. The Guillain Barre Syndrome symptoms that he exhibited are quite common in sub and semi tropical countries and fall into the Tropical Medicine category of medicine which is virtually non existent here. His Primary Care Physician has to this very day mentioned how flummoxed the team of doctors were until they finally had little to no choice to treat him even though they were not 100% sure they were on the right path. It came down to a matter of having to do something.
Casimira, I had a biology professor when I was at USL who had done his internship at Charity. He said he was always grateful for that because of the tropical diseases he saw that came in because of New Orleans being a port city. Looks like that knowledge has fallen away in the many years since.
Yes, this same woman who brought up Cuba also said that years ago Charity Hospital did have one of the top premiere Tropical Medicine Departments. She was extremely knowledgeable on the topic and I would have liked to have chatted with her some more. (I met her waiting in line at the Rite Aid store when one of the cashiers who knew me and T.'s medical situation inquired after him. The woman then proceeded to offer this information, none of which I was even remotely aware of.) I guess physicians these days are more interested in areas of medicine that are more lucrative.
When I was hospitalised in the tropical medicine department of the Hôpital Bichat in Paris two years ago, they were never able to determine exactly what I had, even though I was very quickly cured with various antibiotics. Maybe Anyport is the vector of contagion.
I will say I have learned about many things from this board.
It was BJD who introduced the possibility of my huband's mysterious illness being Guillain Barre Syndrome. When I introduced the possibility of this to one of the resident neurologists I was quickly dismissed. Two weeks later the same resident was seriously considering it and the proper course of treatment thus began. We were very very fortunate that it had not advanced to something irreversible although T. still suffers from very painful bouts of neuralgia in his hands.
Casi,I'm very glad that I helped in a small way to help your husband recover his health. I had only heard of that disease myself shortly before. The person who had/has it is much better but spent quite a few months falling down when he went out. I guess different parts of the body are affected in different people. He is also probably older than your husband -- in his mid-70s, I think.
The doctors here also took a while to figure out what was wrong with him.
It was pure serendipity BJD. I was without a computer for a long time during that period (which was probably a good thing in many ways). The few times I did have access I dithered as to whether or not I even wanted to post about it. I remember the resident asking me where did I come up with this "theory" and I remember saying that a friend in Toulouse had considered it worthy of mentioning. The woman rolled her eyes at me and I truly wanted to "jack her up" against the wall (the first of many times and she was eventually taken off the case).
Casi, this afternoon I saw the woman whose husband had the same problem as your husband. I asked her how he was doing and she said that he had stopped going to physiotherapy when he began to feel better and he regressed. He has balance problems and staggers when he walks, he has even fallen on the street. He went to see a neurologist yesterday and has been prescribed physiotherapy sessions again.
Not to scare you,, but just that your husband should continue to take care of himself.